Studies show that Americans are finally taking more paid time off, after a nearly two-decade decline in PTO usage. Perhaps the research-backed message is finally sinking in: taking vacation makes us physically and mentally healthier, and boosts our wellbeing at home and at work. But unfortunately, for too many people, a day off isn’t a day off because they remain tethered to their devices, worried they’ll miss an important message or seem uncommitted to their work. To combat this kind of stress, try three things. First, fib on our out-of-office message. Say you’ll have limited email access, even if you plan to check in once or twice while you’re away, so you can respond on your own terms. Second, consider hiding your mobile phone (or even locking it in the hotel safe) so you’re not distracted by push notifications. Third, ask your team for a recap of what you missed when your back, so they can flag anything important. That will help ease your transition back to work by cutting through the sea of unprioritized messages and requests.
Here’s the good news: Americans, as a whole, are finally starting to earn more and take more paid time off.
According to a study by Project: Time Off, American workers took an average of 16.8 vacation days in 2016, up 0.6 days from 2015. That’s the biggest jump since vacation usage started declining in 2000, the study found. And the amount of vacation time earned in 2016 jumped nearly one full day—to 22.6—from the year before.
Perhaps we’re finally buying into what we’ve heard studies tell us time and again: Time off makes us better. Better at our jobs because we’re reenergized, better with our families because we’re less stressed, and better for ourselves because we’re healthier, both physically and mentally.
Vacation actually has similar positive biological effects as meditation, including a decrease in stress and a boost to our immune functions, according…